While fires themselves may not always be foreseeable or preventable, in many cases the injuries they cause can be prevented with a family escape plan.
Of course, one of the important steps in fire prevention is to install smoke detectors and check them monthly. But having these safety devices is not enough. According to fire experts, once a smoke detector sounds, you and other member of your household may have less than three minutes to escape. It’s critical to have an emergency escape plan and rehearse it regularly:
- Chart the Plan: Draw a floor plan of your home, one for each level of the house. Label bedrooms, staircases, hallways, and roofs that could be used as fire escapes.
- Survey Your Home: Check each bedroom for two possible escape routes. If you live in an apartment building, do not plan to use the elevator to escape. Make sure everyone, including children and the elderly, are able to open and fit through alternate escape routes like windows. Security bars should have a quick-release for emergencies. Consider keeping fold-away emergency ladders for upper-story windows.
- Map Escape Routes: Use markers and arrows to mark the preferred escape routes from each bedroom. Use different colored markers to show alternate emergency routes. Chart a place outdoors for everyone to meet after they exit. Consider charting individual plans for each bedroom of the house to keep each plan neat and uncluttered.
- Remember Guest Rooms: Chart a plan for guest rooms and areas that are used to host sleepovers and other gatherings.
- Discuss and Practice the Plan: Hold family meetings to explain the plan. Practice the escape routes at least once a year, particularly when they involve hazardous exits, such as windows.
Families might never need to implement such a plan, but the one time they do, it will certainly be worth it. Remember, when in doubt, always consult a professional. More home safety information and maintenance information is available online at Lightcap.HouseMaster.com.
This information is provided for general guidance purposes only. © Copyright 2008 DBR. Each HouseMaster franchise is an independently owned and operated business. HouseMaster is a registered trademark of DBR Franchising, LLC.